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BOOK REVIEW: The Sicilian's Baby Bargain by Penny Jordan

Dear Ms. Jordan:

Oh, how I wanted to like this book. You are one of my favorite HP authors but I’ll be the first to admit that when you miss, it’s spectacular.

At the funeral of his youngest half brother, Falcon Leopardi learns of a terrible act perpetrated on a young woman. His deceased brother took it upon himself to drug a shy girl who refused his advances, raped her, impregnated her, and then refused to support the child once it was born.

Falcon immediately sets off to find the mother and the child to bring honor back to the Leopardi name. It is not easy to find Annie (whose last name apparently was so unimportant that I wonder if it was included. I could not find it for the review). Annie had taken her baby and ran away, fearing that her stepbrother would bring some harm upon Ollie. Falcon did find them and gave Annie a choice. Stay in London and live hand to mouth or come to Sicily and allow your child to be given every opportunity. Annie realizes there is no choice and goes to Sicily with Falcon.

Annie’s stepbrother had shown an unnatural interest in Annie since their parents were married. When she had complained about it to her mother, the mother chastised Annie and suggested that perhaps it was Annie’s way of dressing (too short of skirts) or her actions (too flirtatious) was bringing on untoward reaction. The years of disapproval from her mother; the constant inspection by her stepbrother; the rape all conspired to overwhelm Annie with a sense of shame and hatred toward her body.

I thought that you did a fantastic job of setting this story up. When Annie anguishes over the fact that Leopardi family knows of her situation, Falcon corrects her:

"You speak as though you fear being shamed,’ he told her evenly. "But it was Antonio who should have borne that shame. It is we who bear it now, as his family. Not you. It is for us-’for me as the eldest-’to see to it that Antonio’s shame does not contaminate either you or Oliver. You have my word that my brothers feel exactly as I do.’

‘…I suppose you think secretly that I encouraged Antonio-’that I deserved what happened to me?’

‘I think no such thing. I know that you were totally blameless.’

The problem is how the setup is resolved. The characters are forced to get married in order to maintain Annie’s right to parenting of Ollie. Falcon is more than willing to tie himself to Annie, after all the boy looks like he could be Falcon’s biological son; plus, he feels a strong sense of responsibility toward Annie.

Falcon convinces Annie that marriage is the right solution because he can heal her sexually. If you heard a low moaning noise that was my groan echoing across the Atlantic. (and not just because I then had Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye running through my mind for the rest of the book and now again as I write the review).

Annie was so traumatized, first by her stepbrother, then by the abandonment of her mother, and finally by the rape and subsequent pregnancy resulting from that rape, the idea that all this could go away in the fierce passionate embrace of a Leonardi was far fetched to say the least.

This overriding storyline diminished the otherwise lovely Harlequin Presents. At its core, TSBB becomes a story of perceived unrequited love on both sides. Annie falls in love with Falcon but is afraid to divulge this because he has taken on so much for her and Oliver. Falcon cannot tell Annie he loves her because it would add to her burden. The two dance around each other making careful moves which are misinterpreted by the other to somewhat comedic but poignant effect for the reader who is omniscient.

I was simply could not overcome my incredulity at the idea that Annie’s emotional trauma could be overcome with a simple good rogering. I get that these Harlequin Presents heroes are supposed to be godlike in the bedroom but I don’t think even Marvin Gaye could bring on that kind of sexual healing. C-

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 04:35:43

    Annie was so traumatized, first by her stepbrother, then by the abandonment of her mother, and finally by the rape and subsequent pregnancy resulting from that rape, the idea that all this could go away in the fierce passionate embrace of a Leonardi was far fetched to say the least.

    This may be a case where truth is stranger than fiction (although since the following news item doesn’t give all the details, and we don’t know the long-term outcome of this story, perhaps the item is over-optimistic?):

    AUSTRIAN incest victim Elisabeth Fritzl has stopped her psychiatric therapy – with the approval of her doctors – because her love affair with her bodyguard has proved to be the best medicine of all.

    Elisabeth, 43, fell for Thomas W., 14 years her junior, when he was assigned to guard her and the six children she bore by her rapist father shortly after she was freed from a secret dungeon where she was imprisoned for 24 years.

    Now her doctors say their relationship has worked miracles on her mental wellbeing. (The Scotsman)

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  2. Gennita Low
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 06:19:02

    Argh.***covering ears*** Earworm for the day. Thanks, Jane.

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  3. RStewie
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 08:17:12

    This review is an A+ for me simply because of the use of the word “rogering”. So full of win!

    Otherwise, I completely agree. The compounded problems the heroine has (stepbrother, mom, rape AND pregnancy) just seems Too Much for even the mightiest of wangs to heal.

    Why don’t more romances extoll the virtues of therapy for their sexually-distressed heroines? I would embrace that Much More readily than the healing powers of The Sicilian’s Theraputic Rogering.

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  4. Elizabeth
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 08:59:42

    If you’ll excuse me now, I’ll just be over here laughing my butt off at the name “Falcon Leopardi.”

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  5. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 09:51:34

    I posted a comment this morning which doesn’t seem to have turned up, yet. It seems to me that truth may well be stranger than fiction in this case, because not that long ago I read a news item about Elisabeth Fritzl having stopped needing therapy because she’s in love with her bodyguard.

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  6. Meljean
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 10:03:47

    I totally agree on this one. I was surprised by the setup (I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it before) but then started taking steps back when he offered to heal her. If it had taken a longer time (or if they’d been married before the sexual healing started, and so that it came out of closeness and a need to be together…oh, yes, and if it had taken more than one night) I might have bought the scenario a little more. But she was there, he thought “oh, my family done you wrong” and offered to make it all right so that later, she could have another husband? *headdesk* It brought on the Ick factor for me.

    But the setup was great.

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  7. Cathy
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 10:25:54

    Falcon Leopardi? Yikes.

    I was just commenting on another message board about the frequency of using sex or love to overcome Issues in romance, and I how I feel like it’s a cheap plot shortcut. The Magical Wang does not make rape and abuse all better, and True Luuuuve does not overcome prejudice in the world around you. I also feel like this sends a terrible message to people who are survivors of sexual abuse or assualt — just have a good lay and you’ll be all better. Really?!?

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  8. Jean Poole
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 10:30:03

    So, let me get this right. Our titular haro give a victim of rape the dubious “choice” of staying in London and eking out a living .. or to uproot herself from anything that she might be familiar with and move to Sicily to give the child born of the rape “all the good things”. Might as well rape our heroine a second time.

    Emotionally blackmailing someone who is recovering from a serious trauma and the aftermath is as low-down dishonorable as it gets.

    Fail. If Turkey Vulture was truly seeking to redeem has family honor or whatever, he’s be supporting Annie and child wherever She chose to live and however She chose to raise the child.

    Nothing like disempowerment by emotional blackmail to really help someone rebuld their shattered self-image. Or is it just break-em-down to build-em up as something different — where the subcontext is that Turkey Vulture and his brother are two sides of the metaphorically same person.

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  9. Serena
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 11:42:32

    As an Italian, the idea that someone would think that living in Sicily (!!) instead of London would give a child “every opportunity” is ridiculous.

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  10. jessica
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 12:23:03

    Wait….

    Falcon Leopardi?

    Seriously?

    I’m still stuck at that part…

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  11. Jayne
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 12:31:39

    Emotionally blackmailing someone who is recovering from a serious trauma and the aftermath is as low-down dishonorable as it gets.

    Fail. If Turkey Vulture was truly seeking to redeem has family honor or whatever, he's be supporting Annie and child wherever She chose to live and however She chose to raise the child.

    Exactly! I’m afraid I’d never get as far as the sexual healing fail part because I couldn’t get past this aspect. Set up a trust fund to heal your family shame, Falcon! And ITA about that name…

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  12. Meljean
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 12:38:05

    I did think the ‘moving to Sicily’ part made sense, in some respects. She was in hiding from her step-brother, and in constant fear that he’d find her. The way in which the move to Sicily was presented ended up being a fulfillment of a wish the heroine had made. Yes, the hero used her fear of her step-brother to convince her, but since she was already on the run and barely making a living (and the step-brother was a real threat while she was in London) the option he presented didn’t have the same ick factor to me as the sexual healing.

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  13. Jenica
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 14:14:05

    Oh, Lord! People are looking at me strangely because I snorted when I read Jean’s “Turkey Vulture!”

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  14. Deidre Jackson
    Jun 20, 2009 @ 21:22:26

    I can’t wait for the day when someone sues Harlequin for causing them to end up with HIV or becoming pregnant from their blackmailing boss who didn’t turn out to be the knight in shining armor they thought they would by page 79.

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  15. Natalie
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 16:49:22

    The book was overloaded – if it had just dealt with the rape and consequence it would have been better to follow – the stepbrother – now this is something that was too dark to add to the mix – its left the book feeling over reached and under developed – lots of messy threads – like her house being owned by him – him still being at large and finally no recognition of the long term impact of the abuse, and come uppence for him!

    ReplyReply

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